Whole wheat penne with masses of broccoli, green olives, and pine nuts

November 9, 2013 at 12:02 am (C (2 stars, okay, edible), Cruciferous rich, Deborah Madison, Italian, Pasta, Starches, Vegetable dishes)

One of my students recently visited Russia and brought me back a beautiful box of pine nuts. We were trying to decide what to make with them when I found this recipe in Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers. I was excited because it calls for either oregano or marjoram. I really like marjoram, but have almost no recipes that use it.

The first step is to dice 2 large onions, and then cook them over low heat for 30 minutes until they caramelize. While we cooked the onions we prepped the broccoli. The recipe says to boil the broccoli in the past cooking water but I steamed it instead. After the broccoli I washed and chopped 1/3 cup (quite a bit!) of fresh marjoram and Derek chopped the garlic and pitted and chopped a lot of olives (enough to get 3/4 cup). Even with both of us working on it, somehow the whole recipe prep seemed to take a long time. And it definitely wasn’t worth all the labor. I feel like I’ve made a lot of recipes like this one before, but somehow it seemed uninspired, without the “lively, assertive” flavors mentioned in the headnotes. Maybe our green olives weren’t the right sort of green olives? Maybe our broccoli wasn’t fresh enough? Or I should have boiled it instead of steaming it? I don’t know, but on the first night it was only fine, and the next day neither Derek nor I really wanted to eat it. The broccoli had turned a bit sulfurous and limp and the dish was quite unappealing. The floral notes from the marjoram, which I supposedly like, were totally turning me off. Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this recipe. Maybe it would be better with oregano and brighter tasting green olives.

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